The Morean Arts Center Hosts Women Who Work: A Portrait
A century is both ancient history and just yesterday depending on two things – how “mature” you are and what you’re talking about.
The 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, falls into the just yesterday category – for me, anyway. It seems inconceivable that in an advanced, 243-year-old republic, women have only had the basic rights of citizenry for 100 of them. And the victory was hard fought, hard won and at great cost.
The Morean Arts Center has partnered with the St. Petersburg-Florida chapter of the national Women’s Caucus for Art to celebrate this feminist milestone in a creative way. The WCA (established in 1972), is a nonprofit based in New York City, which supports women artists, art historians, students, educators and museum professionals.
Together, these dynamic forces bring us the current exhibit, Women Who Work: A Portrait. The collection of 36 portraits opened recently, as in-person and online exhibit, through September 26.
Amanda Cooper, curator of exhibitions at The Morean, can’t hide her enthusiasm as she talks about this tribute to the St. Petersburg area’s very own phenomenal women. “This
exhibit is so interesting and unique,” she says.
“The members of the St. Pete-FL WCA are the actual artists for all 36 pieces.” Artists chose and invited the subjects they wanted to capture on 10×12” wood panels. “They might be an established artist or a novice,” Cooper explains. “The tribute is about it coming from the WCA members.”
So, who ARE the subjects of the Women Who Work portraits? That question is probably best answered in the event description – “This sampling represents the legions of women whose efforts and achievements deserve honor in the historical record.” In this case, the women of our community – “diverse women who keep our city alive.”
“The important selection criteria,” Cooper explains, “was that the theme of the collection as a whole, reflect remarkable St. Petersburg women with consideration for diversity and inclusion. They might be well known or unsung.” Examples of those selected include a student, a Covid nurse, two City Council members – even our very own Barbara St. Clair, executive director of Creative Pinellas.
“The wood panels were conceived to eventually become integrated into a larger quilt-like piece, that represents women across the entire nation,” says Cooper. “Hopefully, it will be shown in many places and literally become a part of history.”
Another interesting element of Women Who Work: A Portrait is the interview. “We asked each subject five questions,” says Cooper.
Who are you?
What do you do?
What wisdom do you have to share?
What is one thing you would do for St. Petersburg?
What does the 19th Amendment centennial mean to you?”
“All the interviews accompany the portraits and are on display. The answers are often fascinating – intimate, and they speak to the community dedication of these women.
“We want to give visitors a feeling of really getting to know the women portrayed in the pieces and why the WCA members selected them in the first place.”
Phenomenal women. That’s us.
Women Who Work: A Portrait
Now through September 26
The Morean Arts Center
719 Central Ave. St. Pete
Explore the Online Gallery
Read the interviews here
Find out more about the Women’s Caucus for Art